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Now and then[a] there would be something wrong[b] with the pot he was molding from the clay[c] with his hands. So he would rework[d] the clay into another kind of pot as he saw fit.[e]

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Footnotes

  1. Jeremiah 18:4 tn The verbs here denote repeated action. They are the Hebrew perfect with the vav (ו) consecutive. The text then reads somewhat literally, “Whenever the vessel he was molding…was ruined, he would remold…” For this construction see Joüon 2:393-94 §118.n and 2:628-29 §167.b, and compare the usage in Amos 4:7-8.
  2. Jeremiah 18:4 sn Something was wrong with the clay—either there was a lump in it, or it was too moist or not moist enough, or it had some other imperfection. In any case the vessel was “ruined” or “spoiled,” or defective in the eyes of the potter. This same verb has been used of the linen shorts that were “ruined” and hence “good for nothing” (Jer 13:7). The nature of the clay and how it responded to the potter’s hand determined the kind of vessel that he made of it. He did not throw the clay away. This is the basis for the application in vv. 7-10 to any nation and to the nation of Israel in particular (vv. 11-17).
  3. Jeremiah 18:4 tn The usage of the preposition בּ (bet) to introduce the material from which something is made in Exod 38:8 and 1 Kgs 15:22 should lay to rest the rather forced construction that some (like J. Bright, Jeremiah [AB], 121) put on the variant כַּחֹמֶר (kakhomer) found in a few Hebrew mss. Bright renders that phrase as an elliptical “as clay sometimes will.” The phrase is missing from the Greek version.
  4. Jeremiah 18:4 tn Heb “he would turn and work.” This is an example of hendiadys where one of the two verbs joined by “and” becomes the adverbial modifier of the other. The verb “turn” is very common in this construction (see BDB 998 s.v. שׁוּב Qal.8 for references).
  5. Jeremiah 18:4 tn Heb “as it was right in his eyes to do [or work it].” For this idiom see Judg 14:3, 7; 1 Sam 18:20, 26; 2 Sam 17:4.

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